ITV will produce drama about sub-postmasters scandal

People vs Post Office: ITV will produce drama about sub-postmasters scandal that saw 39 innocent people falsely branded criminals due to an IT glitch

  • People vs. Post Office will be 4 60-min episodes about the Post Office scandal 
  • Will address the ‘greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history’, ITV say
  • From 1999-2015 thousands of postmasters accused of stealing from their tills
  • But the ‘losses’ were caused by computer glitches on Post Office Horizon system
  • Court of Appeal ruled in favour of 39 postmasters falsely branded criminals

ITV is set to produce a drama about the Post Office scandal that saw 39 innocent postmasters falsely branded criminals due to an IT glitch.

People vs. Post Office will address the ‘greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history’ in four 60-minute episodes, an announcement by ITV revealed.

Between 1999 and 2015 thousands of postmasters were accused of stealing from their own tills.  In reality the ‘losses’ were caused by computer glitches on the Post Office’s Horizon system.  

On Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of 39 postmasters (celebrating their victory) who were falsely branded criminals, and blasted the Post Office for hounding the accused and mounting a cover-up

Former-Post Office worker Janet Skinner (centre), with her niece Hayley Adams (right) and her daughter Toni Sisson celebrating outside the Royal Courts of Justice last Friday

RISING TREND IN DRAMAS DEPICTING REAL-LIFE STORIES 

A dramatisation of the Post Office scandal that saw 39 innocent postmasters falsely branded criminals due to an IT glitch follows in the footsteps of other hit ITV dramas based on real events.

These include: 

 White House Farm

The 2020 series depicts the 1985 killing of five family members in rural Essex. 

Nevill and June Bamber were shot and killed inside the home, as was their adopted daughter Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old twin sons Daniel and Nicholas Caffell.

The Bambers’ other adopted child Jeremy Bamber was the only surviving relative.

Jeremy is currently  serving a life sentence for the murders – which the prosecution say was motivated by his parents’ large inheritance.

 Quiz

Quiz follows former-army major Charles Ingram who won the £1 million jackpot on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2001.

Ingram – who initially did not do well on the show – was later convicted of of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception.

His accomplice Tecwen Whittock was heard coughing at particular points when the answers were listed – giving Ingram the correct time.  

The Pembrokeshire Murders

The series is about Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins who, in 2006, reopened two unsolved 1980s murder cases.

The cases were linked with burglaries.

Forensic DNA analysis – which was more advanced than in the 80s -witness reports and artists impressions then led to the police reviewing an episode of darts series Bullseye.

 Welsh serial killer John Cooper was identified in the episode and was subsequently caught.

Honour

Honour looks at the disappearance and honour killing of Banaz Mahmod.

She was murdered on the orders of her family because she ended a violent and abusive forced marriage and started a relationship with someone of her own choosing.

Her father, uncle and three cousins were convicted of her murder.

Last Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of 39 postmasters who were falsely branded criminals, and blasted the Post Office for hounding the accused and mounting a cover-up. 

Several workers who were wrongly prosecuted – some of whom were imprisoned – are already working with the series’ producers to document how their lives were ‘irreparably ruined by the scandal’, ITV added.

The drama will centre on a group of sub-postmasters from across the UK who, in 2009, formed the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance to clear their names.

It will begin filming in 2022 and will be released later that year.  

It will follow in the footsteps of other hit ITV dramas based on real events.  

People vs. Post Office is written by Gwyneth Hughes – known for Honour, Vanity Fair and Dark Angel – and will be produced by ITV Studios, Patrick Spence and Little Gem.

Creative director and executive producer at Little Gem Natasha Bondy and ITV Studios’ producer Patrick Spence said: ‘Being trusted with telling this story is a huge honour for the whole production team. 

‘We are going to ensure the biggest possible audience get to hear how much the sub-postmasters suffered, how hard they had to fight for justice and how determined they are that the fight is not yet over.’

Dozens of former sub-postmasters have been exonerated on all counts in a landmark Court of Appeal decision to overturn their criminal convictions last Friday.

They fought for ten years to seal a resounding victory – but all involved believe the fight is not over yet.

Writer Ms Hughes added: ‘I’ve been talking for a while now to some of the people whose lives were turned upside down by this appalling business. 

‘I find it just astonishing, and deeply troubling, that this could have happened in my country, and I confess it’s shaken my confidence in British justice. 

‘The sub postmasters at the heart of the fightback are such a lively, interesting and indomitable bunch. 

‘They never gave up, and I’m honoured to be telling their stories.’ 

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of postmasters were sacked or prosecuted after money appeared to go missing from their branch accounts.

Post Office bosses were told glitches in the Fujitsu-developed Horizon computer terminals in branches may be to blame but pursued prosecutions anyway. 

Of those affected by the faulty IT system, 736 were prosecuted and hundreds more lost livelihoods, homes and life savings because they paid back money the Post Office claimed was missing.

Several went to prison, some of whom were pregnant or with young children. Countless others were shunned by their communities.

Tragically, some have died before finding any justice.

Postmaster Harjinder Butoy, his wife Balbinder Butoy and his father Kesar Singh are pictured outside court last Friday

Boris Johnson has held a virtual meeting with postmasters over the Post Office Horizon miscarriage of justice.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister said: ‘I’m very grateful to the postmasters who shared their harrowing stories with me today about the terrible impact the Post Office Horizon IT dispute has had on their lives.

‘Whilst nothing will make up for the grief they have endured, we will stand with them to find the answers to what went wrong, help do right by them and ensure nothing like this happens again.’

 

ITV’s head of drama Polly Hill – who commissioned the series – said: ‘This is the story of how the sub postmasters fought back against seemingly insurmountable odds. 

‘Having followed their fight for justice and the landmark decision by the Court of Appeal, I’m delighted we can now tell their story.’ 

MPs this week demanded the Government launch a full inquiry into the Post Office scandal.g

A string of ministers responsible for the state-owned company failed to act when postmasters were wrongly convicted.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Vince Cable, business secretary between 2010 and 2015, claimed he was ‘not aware there was a problem’.

But Conservative peer Lord Arbuthnot, who has campaigned for postmasters for over a decade, said: ‘To suggest that ministers did not know anything about the unfolding Horizon scandal is clearly nonsense.’ 

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